Cornwall’s Serendipity Boutique provides great deals on fashionable items of clothing, and most importantly, support for women in need.
Serendipity was created by Maison Baldwin House Executive Director, Debbie Fortier. Maison Baldwin House is a women’s shelter in Cornwall that supports nearly 200 women every year who are seeking to escape Domestic Violence.
Every year, Maison Baldwin House must raise at least $90,000 from the community to continue their operations, and that does not include any capital projects, such as building repairs and maintenance.
Located at 331 Second St. W., Serendipity Boutique opened in April of 2017 and serves as a place where Maison Baldwin House can sell donated items to raise money for its operations. It also supports the women that Maison Baldwin House serves in a direct way by allowing their clients to access clothing items at no cost using their existing loyalty card program.
“At the beginning, the loyalty program was one the most important parts of the plan,” Fortier explained.
Customers who buy a $10 item from Serendipity can have a hole punched in their loyalty card. Once they receive 10 punches, they can use that card for $10 off their next purchase.
Maison Baldwin House will give a few fully punched cards to their clients who can then go and shop for clothing for themselves or their children without having to identify as a client of the shelter.
“That way, a woman’s confidentiality can be maintained,” Fortier said.
All of the items for sale at Serendipity are affordably priced, even the brand names.
“Our belief is that we want everybody and anybody to be able to purchase these brand names,” said Fortier.
There are some items that are donated that have slight imperfections, a missing button for example.
These donations do not go to waste however, as Serendipity has setup the Giving Tree in front of the store, where cold weather items can be set out by staff between December and March for those in need to take at no cost. Coats from inside the store can also be purchased to add to the Giving Tree.
Serendipity Boutique continues to receive donations of clothing and other items from the public, as well as some local big box stores. Their growing success necessitated the need to expand, and in 2020, they had an extension built on the back of their building so they could better house their donations and give space to their staff.
Fortier will say that the staff at Serendipity Boutique, all of whom are volunteers, are one of the keys to their growing success.
“One of the big factors to our success is that we are fully supported by volunteers,” Fortier said.
The volunteers on site help run operations by sorting donations, stocking the racks, and working the cash. Their dedication ensured that the boutique stayed open through the COVID-19 pandemic with the exception of the lockdown periods.
Volunteers also help with special happenings at the store, such as the special bridal events and pop-up sales throughout the year. In 2020, they began offering online auctions. Please join the Maison Baldwin House Online Auctions Facebook group for more information on the current and upcoming online auctions.
Serendipity Boutique is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Donations may be dropped off during these hours only.
To learn more about Serendipity Boutique or to volunteer, please call 613-935-5419.